Rodrigo Guerrero evened his score with Raul Martinez and picked up the vacant IBF 115-pound title in the process with an entertaining six-round technical decision over the former U.S. amateur standout in Tijuana, Mexico, on Saturday.
Guerrero (16-3-1, 10 knockouts), who lost a hotly contested 12-round split decision to Martinez last November, dropped his American rival in the third round and was the aggressor throughout the fast-paced shootout until an accidental head butt in round six prompted referee Pat Russell to stop the fight between rounds due to a bad cut above Martinez’s swollen right eye.
Guerrero, a 23-year-old protégé of Marco Antonio Barrera, was ahead by scores of 59-54 and 57-56 (twice) after six rounds.
It was too bad the fight was stopped because all six completed rounds featured tit-for-tat power-punch exchanges between the talented junior bantamweights. Guerrero pressured Martinez from the opening bell. The Mexico City native constantly switched from an orthodox stance to southpaw as he stalked Martinez. He nailed the Texan’s body from a right-handed stance and scored from the outside when he switched southpaw.
Martinez (28-2, 16 KOs) counter punched well in rounds two and three until, Guerrero measured him with a right hook and dropped him with a follow-up straight left near the end of the third. However, the knockdown seemed to light a fire under the San Antonio native, who attacked Guerrero with gusto in round four and mixed in some nice boxing in the fifth by setting up his power shots with a stiff jab, pivots and lateral movement.
The two traded on even terms in the sixth round, but Martinez’s face was a bloody mess by the time the bell rang. Still, the 29-year-old veteran was unhappy with the referee’s decision to halt the bout and go to the scorecards. Martinez wanted to continue fighting even with one eye.
Hopefully, he’ll get another shot at Guerrero and fans will be treated to a rubber match.